MIKE’S LIFE: Getting creative to retrieve the squirrel trap
Last week I wrote about putting traps in my attic to catch flying squirrels.
When I last left you, the traps were empty, and I was considering when I would take the traps down and call my flying squirrel problem done.
Little did I know that, in the week that would follow, we would not only trap a flying squirrel, but involve a garden hoe, an extendable pole that attaches to a chain saw and duct tape in our flying squirrel quest.
It started when we went to the check the traps, I assumed for the last time. The traps had not caught any squirrels, so I assumed the squirrels had moved on, and it was time to put the traps in storage.
I went in the attic with the kids, as any responsible parent does, and we made our way to the back of the attic. My son, sporting a headlamp, made it to the trap first. “IT’S CLOSED!!!!” he screamed. We had captured prey.
Sure enough, when I picked up the trap, I heard scurrying inside. We had ourselves a flying squirrel.
We made our way downstairs, and my son decided he absolutely had to find every kid in the cul-de-sac for the release party.
Once we gathered everyone, I slowly opened the back of the trap.
Parker shined his flashlight on it so all the kids could see, just as I opened the trap wide, revealing, you guessed it, a bald eagle.
Ha! I kid. It was a flying squirrel, its big brown eyes staring up at us, wondering why we had disturbed it from its delightful peanut butter feast.
It looked around, and then quickly shot out of the top of the trap and scurried up a nearby tree.
When we retreated to the house, we decided to put the traps back up in the attic for a bit longer, as we clearly still had flying squirrels. I also vowed to find where they were getting in, which is normally a spot not much bigger than a dime.
My son went back to the attic to set the trap. I was close behind, when I saw him coming back to me in the attic. He was clearly upset. “I dropped the trap,” he said.
“Well, pick it up,” I said.
“You don’t understand. I dropped it by the shower.”
Turns out, where he dropped the trap was right by our main bathroom shower, which is a fiberglass enclosure that is about seven feet tall.
When I got the flashlight and looked, I saw that the trap was waaaaaay down at the bottom of the attic, in about a foot-wide space between the shower and the wall.
I looked at my son. He said, “You’re gonna lower me down there, aren’t you?”
I was a bit taken aback, mainly because I had not thought of that option. “No,” I said. “I’m not. Your mom would no doubt find out about that. Let’s game plan,” I said.
We went to the garage and started assessing our tools. My first bet was duct tape. I had my son grab duct tape and a baseball bat.
I rolled the tape up on itself, leaving the sticky side out. I stuck it to the end of the bat and then tried to pick up various items in the garage.
It became clear that while duct tape solves many problems, retrieving a metal box from an attic was not one of them.
My next choice was to use a garden hoe. My plan was to lower the hoe down between the shower and the wall, wedge it beneath the trap and slowly bring it to safety.
We made our way back to the attic, and there I was, lying down across 2X4s, a headlamp spotlighting the trap as I tried to angle the garden hoe beneath it.
And that’s when I found out I need to buy a garden hoe that is about a foot longer.
Parker and I made our way back to the garage, trying to find something longer than our garden hoe.
“You want me to go find a long stick in the yard?” he offered. Good thought, I said, but we needed to first check our inventory.
And then I saw it – my chain saw that attaches to a telescoping pole, the device called by a neighbor as a “bad idea on a stick.”
I grabbed the chain saw, and Parker’s eyes got big. “I don’t think Mommy…”
I cut him off. “We’re not using the chain saw,” I said. I removed the chain saw and extended the pole to about 10 feet. Parker’s eyes lit up. “I don’t know what we’re doing,” he said, “but I like it.”
Truth be told, I wasn’t sure what I was doing, but I at least had a longer pole to work with.
When we got to the attic, I put the pole down toward the trap. The opening of the trap was face up, and I was able to push the chain saw pole inside of it, wedge it on some of the trap and begin to slowly retrieve it.
When it got within a few inches, Parker leaned over, grabbed the trap and shouted, “YES!!!!”
We have since reset the traps, and I have, I think, secured the spot where the squirrels are getting in. Hopefully, we’ll solve this problem soon. But, if not, there is always the chain saw.
Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama.